Spotlight on 3-im: Bringing a World View of BIM to Italy

By Akio

 

Edmondo Occhipinti founder and Director of 3-im

In some ways Edmondo Occhipinti, founder and director of BIM consultancy 3-im, is starting from the ground up—again.

Occhipinti spent more than eight years with Gehry Technologies, working from his role as a consultant to ultimately manager of the company’s European and South American divisions.

During that time, he grew from an individual with strong technical knowledge of 3D technologies to a manager who taught others how to apply these tools.

Now, in his new role with 3-im, Occhipinti is teaching a whole new group of players how advanced modeling can solve some of the most complex challenges facing the AEC industry.

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can solve the complex challenges facing the #AEC industry”

Tech-Created Challenges

Many of these challenges are created by the technology tools used most widely today.

For example, on the project management side, one of the greatest problems Occhipinti sees is the fragmentation among systems.

“Every single department is on its own system,” he explains. “There is no integration among planning, procurement, etc., and everything is spread out on a thousand different documents that are really not connected at all.”

This fragmentation leads to problems in communication, errors and emailed updates that are outdated almost before they are sent.

Then, there are issues of scalability.

Many façade contractors already are using 3D technologies. The challenge, however, is finding a scalable solution that allows them to grow their business beyond one scope. Products suitable for coordinating the sizing of 300,000 cladding panels haven’t always been able to handle the highly detailed engineering of smaller components — or smoothly interface among these details.

3-im, a Dassault Systèmes partner, has heard time and again the surprise of clients who realize a solution already exists that can improve coordination among trades and components.

A New 3D Market

That surprise often comes because the Italian industry is relatively new to 3D design possibilities.

The country is home to some of the strongest construction companies in the world, particularly in the field of infrastructure. Many of these players have branched out worldwide and have led to the rise of smaller supporting players.

The painful irony, however, is that many of these companies are struggling in the regional market, even as they grow internationally, due to the ongoing economic crisis inn which Italy is mired.

It’s within this unique contradiction that Italian contractors are beginning to ask about 3D technology. Occhipinti notes that as a result of these economic forces, Italy has been moving much slower than some of the Northern European countries into its use of technology tools.

“What we’re seeing is these companies that are now technically very strong, but technologically very weak,” Occhipinti says.

That is about to change.

A Partner in the Process

Because many of these contractors have offices around the world, these Italian companies are comparing their capabilities to joint venture partners that are prepared to bid on projects requiring 3D delivery.

This recognition is leading many regional projects to seek out partners such as 3-im.

“They are looking at partners in Italy and thinking ‘if I want to get more competitive abroad, where my main market is, I need to be able to compete with the others and bring myself to another level. How do I do that?’” Occhipinti has found.

It’s a question that 3-im is well suited to answer. The company is made up of Italians whose careers have been built on technologically complex projects entirely outside of Italy. Since arriving in Italy in 2013, the company has established work with several major contractors, and is setting out to wow the rest by way of example.

A Complex Example

Among those examples is 3-im’s current work with Morphosis Architects on the San Donato Milanese headquarters of Eni S.p.A., the Italian oil company with worldwide operations.

05.CDE_02 (1)

The 117 million EUR complex will feature three buildings covering 120,000 square meters. Each building will be connected by various platforms. The double-skin façade is designed with a level of geometric complexity that made 3D design a near necessity.

Tweet: The geometric complexity behind this €117M, 120K-sq-meter complex made 3D design a necessity @treiemme @Dassault3DS http://ctt.ec/3SL01+Click to tweet: “The geometric complexity behind this €117M,
120K-sq-meter complex made 3D design a necessity”

During its design development, Eni decided to implement a BIM process for the design allotment, construction documents and tendering process. “It was looking for a partner that had the experience to run this particular process,” Occhipinti said.

At the start of this project, 3-im found a partner in Dassault Systèmes, finding the company’s 3D technology the perfect product for defining the scale and complexity of the Eni project.

For nine months, 3-im experts have worked to build a dense 3D model for the project, bringing it to LOD 350, which not only represents the shapes and sizes of specific object, but also the interfaces among building systems.

05.CDE_01.000

Occhipinti explains that using 3D helped ease three key areas:

  • Coordination of systems: 3D allowed 3-im to model the work of the different trades that would be involved. Occhipinti notes that many basic 3D programs would not have been enough to handle this coordination — because of the changes that were happening on an almost daily basis.
  • Geometric complexity: The double-skin can be complex to fabricate on its own, but this one employs some fairly unique geometry. In addition, each entry is made up of a double-curvature glass reinforced concrete panel that will ultimately be carved one by one due to their individual designs.
  • Data structure: The model was structured so that all of the necessary materials and specifications, and all of their information and features, was included and could be effectively pulled out of the model as needed. This not only proved helpful with scheduling, but with cost control.

A Fresh Opportunity

Despite the challenges facing Italian design and construction companies, and their partners around the world, Occhipinti sees major opportunities.

“We are living in an extremely complex moment where the global economy is shifting from one phase to the next, and this shift is a great opportunity for every industry to think about itself and propose new ways of improving processes,” he says.

As he points out, the construction industry is infamous for its inefficiency, so at this point there are no wrong answers — except for maintaining the status quo.

“Things like this don’t happen quickly,” Occhipinti adds. “When I started in this industry more than ten years ago, people were saying ‘in five years BIM is going to be standard.’ Five years later we heard the same thing. Things take time to change — and that’s good for us. We have the time to bring new value to the market.”

 

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Akio Moriwaki

Akio Moriwaki
Dassault Systèmes’ head of global marketing for the Architecture, Engineering and Construction industry, Mr. Moriwaki led the launch of the groundbreaking Lean Construction Solution Experience and is a member of buildingSMART.


Related Resources:

White paper: Technological Change Brought by BIM to Façade Design

Collaborative and Industrialized Construction 

Façade Design for Fabrication  Industry Solution Experience

Spotlight on Dr. David Gerber: Building a Storied Career Around Easing Design Complexity

By Akio
Paradigms in Computing

“Paradigms in Computing: Making, Machines, and Models for Design Agency in Architecture”
by David Jason Gerber and Mariana Ibanez

Today Dr. David Gerber serves as assistant professor of Architecture and Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Southern California, but the title he claims is far simpler than his multi-disciplinary research aims.

The son of an engineer and a computer scientist, Gerber has called many countries (and at one point, a sailboat) home, and his work today reflects that blend of technological interests and global perspectives. A design architect by training, Gerber has worked for some of the world’s most innovative architecture and technology firms, including Gehry Technologies and Zaha Hadid Architects.

Since then he has served as professor, lecturer, author, and founder of several technology startups, but his work revolves around one theme: the intersection of architecture, design with computation, and technology.

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Around Easing #Design Complexity”

Finding A Better Way

It was during his time with Zaha Hadid Architects more than 14 years ago that Gerber says he discovered the lesson that would set his career trajectory.

That path, as he describes it, has been “to develop parametric skillsets, technologies, and knowledge to better equip designers to handle real-world complexity, while maintaining the highest level of quality in design possible.”

Gerber had won the title of project architect and manager for a massive new project: the One North master plan in Singapore. The design called for a 30-year master plan for a city of 200,000 people, with 5 million square meters of gross floor area over 200 hectares of land.

At that time, parametric design wasn’t a term ever heard in architecture, but the connection of information it allows was greatly needed by such a complex project.

“There weren’t any tools for me to appropriately manage my responsibilities, which was to link the data to my geometry while my geometry was changing on an hourly basis,” Gerber recalls. “And the data sets were enormous.”

Ultimately, Gerber developed a program that linked this information. However, he left the project thinking, “There has got to be a better way to enable good design, while not losing the bidirectional impact from geometry to data, and data to geometry.”

Exploring Parametrics

The Singapore master plan was a project with a painful lesson, learned under a tight schedule and cost constraints, among other challenges. Yet Gerber knew the tool he had commissioned while working on the project—what he calls the first parametric urbanism tool—was a first step toward smarter design.

 From Zaha Hadid Architects, Gerber went on to Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to pursue his doctorate. It was in a class taught by his advisor that Gerber discovered CATIA®.

It was among the first classes in which architects were instructed on CATIA, and it was eye-opening for Gerber to realize that there already existed technologies in engineering disciplines that he and his colleagues had tried to duplicate in the architectural setting.

“This became the 4-year trajectory of my PhD studies, in which I wrote one of the first PhDs in architecture on parametric design,” Gerber says.

His early experience in CATIA, through classes and work at MIT’s Media Lab where he was appointed as a research fellow, became an asset that helped Gerber earn an internship at Gehry Technologies, where he was able to further develop this knowledge for architecture.

Since then, through lectures, teaching and publications, Gerber has set out to help others realize the “better way” of delivering highly complex projects.

Removing Uncertainty

Gerber believes that parametric design tools and the shift to 3D design have become so valuable to designers because they help address the problem of uncertainty that is characteristic of design.

“As designers, we have a huge amount of responsibility because our visions carry with them 100- to 200-year lifespans and life cycle costs,” Gerber says.

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100-to 200-year lifespans and life cycle costs”

Given this duration, he sees design as inherent with enormous uncertainty. As a result, Gerber says, “It’s our duty to enhance the design process, and therefore the design product, with more and more intelligence.”

Parametric and generative design systems are one key for linking otherwise fragmented expertise in the AEC industry and applying it to accurately achieve the complex aims of today’s projects.

Parametric design mode, image courtesy of David Gerber

Image courtesy of David Gerber

Of course, there is room for more innovation in this new approach toward integrating project expertise. Gerber describes his world today as being about solving the problems that lie at the intersection of architecture, engineering and construction through an emphasis on the humanistic expression of design and integrating the innovations in the computer science field.

“My ultimate aim is to provide higher fidelity information, and capture higher fidelity knowledge to better equip the architect and designer,” Gerber says.

3DEXPERIENCE Forum 2014

David Gerber is a featured speaker along with Becher Neme and Kerenza Harris at the upcoming 3DEXPERIENCE Forum in Las Vegas, November 11-12, 2014.

Dr. Gerber will present the evolution of CATIA-based teaching, consulting, and research through the lens of 12 years of experience. The talk will highlight the importance of bottom-up and top-down educational and research strategies, and will link to the needs of AEC industry challenges.


Related Resources

Learn more about David Gerber’s work

Learn more about Façade Design for Fabrication

Register for the 3DEXPERIENCE Forum Las Vegas, November 11-12, 2014

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Designing for the Medical Device Industry: Holistic Solutions

By Helene

This post originally appeared at Core77.

A Multi-Faceted Approach

Bringing a consumer product to market is a challenge in and of itself—taking an idea through concept development, business analysis, beta testing, product launch, and beyond. Add the FDA (Food & Drug Administration) to the mix, and it’s a whole ‘nother story. This is the challenge faced by medical device and product firms, which not only have to make a fully functioning, well-designed product but also have to put it through several rounds of rigorous testing by the FDA and other regulatory bodies.

The AliveCor heart monitor, designed by Karten Design.

“They’re parameters. They don’t stop you from doing anything, but they do make you do it in a way that you, as a user, would probably think is a good thing,” says Aidan Petrie, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Ximedica,

an FDA-registered product development firm with an exclusive focus on medical products. On any given day, Ximedica is running 40 individual programs, overseeing the steps required to bring these products to market. “We don’t do anything that isn’t a FDA-regulated product,” says Petrie.

The timelines for these projects can run anywhere between two to six years. While time-to-market is not the primary driver, finding ways to close that gap can make a big difference in profitability. For companies like Ximedica and HS Design, closing that gap meant becoming International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 13485 certified. “There are so many regulatory and quality metrics that had to be put in place to satisfy those requirements that it made us a better and stronger company,” explains Tor Alden, Principal and CEO at HS Design (HSD). “It also put us to a level where we couldn’t just accept any client. We had to become more sophisticated as far as who our clients were and how we could say no or reach a point of compliancy.” By building those regulations into the design process, these companies are able to anticipate and plan for any potential timely obstacles from the get-go.

As the products become increasingly complex, so do the regulations around how they’re developed. Traceability of every decision is required for ISO and FDA compliance, ensuring that medical device firms have a standardized quality management process that they follow and document every step of the product’s development. Depending on the type of product, specialists are often brought in to advise different aspects of that process. “There are so many parts to the puzzle,” says Petrie. “We have a hundred and forty people, but we still need specialists all over the place. We have regulatory people on staff, but we also bring in other pieces that we need. While all the people we have in the building are experts in medical device development, when we need someone to develop some optics, we go outside for that. It’s very collaborative because nobody can do it all by themselves.”

As an FDA-registered developer and contract manufacturer, Ximedica takes products all the way through to clinical trials—a part of the process that comes with its own set of requirements all its own. Even a product as benign as a toothbrush, for example, calls for regulations under HIPPA (Health Insurance Privacy and Accountability Act) if it is being tested by people over the age of 65, under 18, or those living with certain medical conditions. Being able to connect these requisitions to product features in the beginning would allow a project manager to track deliverables and foresee any hurdles before the final design goes to Verification and Validation.

Concept design of a smartwatch

Companies like Dassault Systèmes hope to offer a holistic approach to these problems. Similar to how Ximedica has positioned themselves as the one-stop-shop for all of the components needed to bring a medical product to market, Dassault Systèmes’ Ideation & Concept Design for Medical Device creates a space for designers, marketers, specialists, and collaborators to bring an idea through all the phases of the design process. Powered by their 3DEXPERIENCE® platform, Ideation & Concept Design for Medical Device brings together automated market listening, 3D-drawing to 3D-design integration, traceability, and project management together in one program—in the cloud.

“It’s very challenging to get a medical product to market in less than two years,” explains Alden. “A lot of it has to do with how challenging it is from the FDA standpoint and getting it through the regulatory bodies, but a lot of it is making sure that everybody is working with the same sheet music. Most important is to capture the user needs upfront and translate them into quantifiable attributes.  Additionally we need to combine these user needs with the technical issues into a product requirement specification.  Managing all these aspects of a project, understanding all the players, and the regulatory milestones is vital to shortening the time to market.”

Check out Beyond the design of the Medical Device to dig deeper into this topic and access the “Ideation & Concept Design for Medical Device” information kit here, over on Dassault Systèmes’ site: Ideation & concept design for medical device.



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